‘Squid Game’ Actor Found Guilty of Sexual Misconduct


A South Korean court on Friday convicted Oh Young-soo, an actor who won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of a contestant in the Netflix survival drama “Squid Game,” of indecent assault.

A district court judge in Seongnam, a city southeast of Seoul, found Mr. Oh guilty of inappropriately hugging an actress, holding her hand and kissing her cheek in 2017.

Mr. Oh, 79, was given an eight-month suspended sentence and ordered to attend 40 hours of classes on sexual violence. Mr. Oh, who had publicly denied the charge, told reporters after the verdict that he planned to appeal.

Prosecutors charged Mr. Oh in 2022 after an actress, who was not identified, filed a complaint accusing him of inappropriately touching her. They argued that, across multiple occasions in August and September 2017, Mr. Oh had hugged the woman, held her hand, kissed her cheek and laid in her rented room, where he made potentially inappropriate sexual comments, Judge Jeong Yeon-ju said.

The actress told others about her experience at the time and wrote about them in her diary, Judge Jeong said. She received sexual violence counseling in March 2018. She tried to forget her distressful memories for some time, until the success of “Squid Game” in 2021 prompted the woman to demand an apology from Mr. Oh about his actions, for which Mr. Oh apologized, the judge said.

Mr. Oh denied kissing the woman, claimed that he had held her hand to help her carry things, and said that his apology to her was not an admission of guilt, the judge said. Mr. Oh’s lawyers also argued that the woman’s narrative was inconsistent. But the judge found her accusations credible.

A few months before he was charged, Mr. Oh became the first South Korean to win a Golden Globe, for best supporting actor for his role as Player No. 001 in “Squid Game,” a dystopian drama about people who risk their lives in a secretive contest in hopes of winning a fortune.

He was also nominated for a 2022 Emmy for his performance on the show, still the most watched series ever on Netflix. Oh Il-nam, the character he portrays in the show, is one of hundreds of contestants who vie for the first place in a game in which everyone is killed except the winner, who earns a life-changing reward. He hides certain secrets about his true identity from the other participants throughout the game, revealing it at the end.

Mr. Oh, who has appeared in more than 200 plays since 1968 and won numerous theater awards, is considered one of South Korea’s most accomplished stage actors.

The sexual misconduct charge hurt his career well before the court rendered a verdict. Mr. Oh was not included in the cast for Season 2 of “Squid Game,” scheduled for release this year. The country’s Culture Ministry has also stopped airing a government commercial that features him.

Mr. Oh will also will not appear in an upcoming film called “About Family” by the South Korean director Woo-seok Yang. The film’s distribution company, Lotte Entertainment, told the local news media last month that it was deleting all of his scenes and refilming them with another actor, Lee Soon-jae.

Last year, Mr. Oh was dropped from the cast of a South Korean play, “Love Letter,” about a pair of actors who take turns reading love letters to each other.

Mr. Oh’s accuser filed a complaint against him in 2021, prompting a police investigation in Seongnam. Prosecutors eventually dropped the case, but the woman appealed to reopen it, and Mr. Oh was later charged after more evidence was gathered.

“I am sorry,” he told reporters while walking into his first court hearing in February 2023. “I think I behaved badly.”

But he continued to deny the charge.

The indecent assault charge carried a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years or a fine of up to 15 million South Korean won, or about $11,400. But prosecutors said last month that they would seek a one-year sentence and an employment ban if he were to be convicted.

Other details of the case have not been made public. Many of the hearings have been closed to the public and the woman has not been identified, in keeping with standard practice for sex crimes cases in South Korea.

People convicted of indecent assault in South Korea become registered sex offenders who are monitored by the police even after completing their prison terms. First-time offenders can receive reduced sentences, or simply a fine.

Since 2018, South Korea’s #MeToo movement has led to accusations of sexual misconduct against an array of prominent men, including powerful figures in the entertainment industry and government. Some have apologized or resigned. Others have been convicted of rape or other sex crimes and sentenced to long prison terms.


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